Terror strikes Burkina Faso’s capital; Hostage crisis ends

RSTV Bureau

ouagadougouTerrorists have struck again. This time it’s the capital of the African nation Burkina Faso. At least 23 people have been killed and another 33 have been wounded in the attack on an upmarket hotel in Ouagadougou.

Gunshots and explosions began at Ouagadougou’s four-star Splendid hotel and the nearby ‘Cappuccino’ restaurant late on Friday night and continued until late Saturday afternoon.

The hostage crisis finally ended after the forces gunned down 4 terrorists and rescued 126 hostages from inside the hotel which is popular with United Nations staff and westerners.

French Special Forces who have a permanent presence in the country joined the Burkinabe forces to counter the terrorists who were holed up in the hotel. Sporadic exchange of fire was heard near the hotel even hours after the siege began.

“The attacks on the Splendid Hotel and the Cappuccino are over. But an assault is ongoing at the Hotel Ybi” next to the Cappuccino, Interior Minister Simon Compaore told AFP.

A total of “126 people, including at least 33 wounded, have been freed. Three jihadists — an Arab and two black Africans — have been killed,” Compaore added.

Sources said 23 people belonging to 18 countries were killed in the assaults. And the toll was expected to rise.

Eyewitnesses said a fire raged at the main entrance of the 147-room hotel and screams could be heard from inside. Reports also said about 10 vehicles were set on fire in the street outside.

“It was horrible, people were sleeping and there was blood everywhere. They were firing at people at close range,” Yannick Sawadogo, one of those who escaped, told AFP.

“We heard them speaking and they were walking around people and firing at people who were not dead. And when they came out they started a fire,” the eyewitness added

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group has claimed that it was “revenge against France and the disbelieving West”, according to a statement
carried by US-based monitoring group SITE.

The attackers were members of the Al-Murabitoun group based in Mali and run by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, SITE said.

The attack comes less than two months after a jihadist hostage siege took place at the luxury Radisson Blu Hotel in Malian capital Bamako in November. 20 people including 14 foreigners had died in the attack.

(With inputs from agencies)